What experience did you have when you got on training?

Discuss applications to the clearing house (and to courses that are not in the clearing house system), screening assessments, interviews, reserve lists, places, etc. here
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Re: What experience did you have when you got on training?

Post by Goldy85 » Tue May 17, 2016 3:17 pm

my path has been a long and hard one, mainly due to me starting my undergraduate degree at the age of 21. As a result, I think this reflected in how I went about getting relevant experience and working myself silly at various stages - a sense of not feeling good enough and needing to tick boxes. Looking back, I certainly would have been kinder to myself in the pursuit of gaining entry onto training as it often meant missed holidays and other social occasions. I had applied twice before with no interviews and did not apply last year. I felt privileged to have two interviews this time considering how competitive the process is, and knowing people just as competent, if not more so than me did not get invited to any.

GCSE's (not flattering at all). 3 A-levels (BCC).
BSc Psychology - First (2008-2011), London Metropolitan Univeristy
MSc Psychiatric Research - Merit (part-time, 2011-2013), King's College London
PG Cert Low Intensity Cognitive Behavioural Interventions - Pass (June 2014 - Jan 2015), UCL

Honorary Assistant Psychologist, 12 months (1 day per week)
Support Worker (Female inpatient acute ward), 21 months
Assistant Psychologist - Secondary Care Psychology Services, 9 months.
Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner, 2 years

I co-published by MSc dissertation

I generally tried to embrace the process, especially the interview days. I found talking to other candidates and trainees helped place the day in context without getting overly worked up beforehand or seeing the process too much as a competition. I will be turning 31 for the start of the training.

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Re: What experience did you have when you got on training?

Post by badscience » Fri May 20, 2016 12:04 am

Like others posting, my path into psychology has had lots of bumps. I've taken a while to get on to training- I'm 31 and didn't start my psychology undergrad until I was 25.

I studied BSc Psychology while paying my own fees and working pretty much full time, had a terrible breakup in 3rd year and came out with a 2:2. This was devastating to me, I felt like I'd wasted three years of my life and a lot of money on a degree that was essentially useless. Throughout undergrad I had been working with autistic children part time in a clinical setting, getting good experience with clinical note taking/behavioural interventions/working with schools.

After some soul searching, I started to channel my frustration at the system/my series of cock ups and challenge myself. Pretty soon after graduating I applied for a Masters in Clinical Applied Psychology and got on the reserve list- not straight on because of the 2:2, and then got a place. Studied my butt off, put the course fees on a credit card and worried about them later. I smashed the masters and got great marks. I had a transcript I was finally proud of.
I didn't apply to DClin that year because my masters wasn't finished and I thought there was no chance with a 2:2 and an incomplete qualification to my name.

2013- Got a job in a charity working in learning disability - earning shit money but great experience in leadership, the need for good governance, the need for good supervision, running groups, 1:1 work, budgeting a service and presenting to large crowds of scowly funders and even local government. Worked there for one year. Then applied for an AP post and battled it out with a ton of other excellent interviewees. Got a post in learning disability and had some amazing supervisors, gained fantastic experience and really grew into the role.

2015 - I applied to DClin that year and got 4 no's from clearing house and one interview for a university in Ireland. Did well at interview and got a reserve place, was chuffed to be honest, better than I had hoped for. Had AP post barely a year at this stage.

After this some low times: a period of intense self doubt, unhealthy levels of introspection. Going through personal therapy, a bereavement, and a difficult living situation put me in a bad way mentally and physically, my self care was rubbish and I knew it. I considered packing DClin in altogether, because in all honestly I never thought someone from a bad background, with little supports and a poor undergrad degree could make it through interviews and into the 'system'. However - I applied again. Got three interviews. One uni with a ridiculous preselection test which I did not pass. Two other interviews and two offers of places in 2016 - unbelievable. Obviously very chuffed and very grateful.

Advice from my own experience: If you are in need of clinical experience, try try try for a post in LD. I feel you really get a fantastic bredth of experiences; working systemically, 1:1 therapy, being creative with your approach, working with new policy and legislation, capacity, other professions... it really is invaluble.

Without sounding like a patronising know it all, the biggest barrier to training is a bottleneck in the pathway - there are loads of fantastic, creative, intelligent graduates and not enough places- Not enough places on DClin and no real alternative career routes. This is not your fault. It's horrible, but not your fault. A solution to this might be utilising your local assistant group and/or the PreQual group. Rattle cages. You deserve to be heard and have your frustrations voiced. There is a real need for clinical psychology and clinical psychologists - there should be more funding for training.

Personally, I would advise people to forgo accumulating masters/diplomas etc and focus more on your practical people skills. Can you talk to a person in distress? Can you make yourself laugh even when you feel like your life is going to bits? Can you plan a meal for 6 people when you're broke? Develop yourself, broaden your horizons with travel and education for educations sake. Paint. Get a job or hobby outside psychology that allows you to work with people in an empowering way. I dunno. What has worked out for me might not be for you, but I'd like anyone struggling with applications/interviews/rejection to know that many others have been where you are now, and have gone on to do well - with or without the DClin.
Last edited by maven on Fri May 20, 2016 12:09 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: to remove frequent swear words

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Location: London

Re: What experience did you have when you got on training?

Post by dwrein » Fri May 20, 2016 11:55 am

Thought I'd add my bits here, mine is rather more generic but certainly supports the difficulty many people experience of cycling AP jobs until you get on. One thing I would say, however is that I tried to ensure some feeling of career progression despite the glass ceiling and therefore put pay rise/higher banding and responsibility as a big part of changing jobs and therefore ended up remaining with LD as my constant throughout (rather than taking a pay cut to change client group as I would have had little experience to go for the higher posts).

GCSE's and A-Levles (As and Bs generally)
BSc Psychology with Neuroscience (1st class)
Graduate Support Worker in residential care for LD and mental health (2 1/2 years)
Assistant Clinical Psychologist in paediatric epilepsy charity (1 year)
Assistant Clinical Psychologist in an independent autism school (2 1/2 years)
Assistant Clinical Psychologist in NHS adult LD community team (just under 1 year by time I start)

I have various reasons for staying in some of the posts I had for a long time despite it probably being wise to move on, looking back I can see how I maybe should have pushed for an AP post earlier and pushed for an NHS AP post earlier but the length of time I have spent in some services I think has helped to really appreciate the culture of organisations and to feel established within a team rather than a transient force.

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Re: What experience did you have when you got on training?

Post by HoneyNutLoop » Mon May 23, 2016 11:31 am

BSc Psychology (2:1) with professional placement.

Voluntary work in actue inpatient adult setting.
Voluntary work at sunday youth group for CYPs with LDs and ASD.
9 months - AP in CYP eating disorders
9 months Research assistant linked with Brains group at GOSH for eating disorders.
Support worker at secure inpatient unit for CYPs with eating disorders.
Domicillary care worker with elderly and infirm 2 years casual basis.
Primary Mental Health Worker at specialist CAMHS (MIND) for Looked After and adopted children and families. 2 Years.
Adult befriending with isolated individual with bipolar II 1 year.

LOVED every second of all of it. Life is the journey not the destination!
Excited to start at Surrey soon.

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Re: What experience did you have when you got on training?

Post by FredV » Mon May 23, 2016 12:35 pm

2010: BA (Hons) 2.1
2012: MSc ABA (1st)
2013: Graduate Dip in Psych

Assistant Clinical Psych (two summers 2009 & 2010- 8months in total) working with adults with Intellectual Disabilities
ABA Tutor (1 year 2 months)
Assistant Clinical Psych working in Brain Injury Service (1 year)
Research Assistant in Dementia (2 years)

Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Mar 20, 2012 3:46 pm

Re: What experience did you have when you got on training?

Post by dh90 » Mon May 23, 2016 3:28 pm

I am 26 and got an entry on my second attempt at applying, first year that I had interviews.

Education - BSc 2:1 (2011), MSc Distinction (2015). As a side note, at undergrad level I got a low 2:1 (including a couple of exceptionally bad marks in 1st year and getting 55% on the clinical psychology module) which I was worried might pose a barrier, but clearly these things can be overcome!

Experience - Various voluntary stuff for 6-9 months after graduating to keep me going until I was able to find a paid job in the mental health care field. 6 months as a support worker in supported accomodation, 3.5 years as an HCA in a psychiatric hospital (1 year full time, 2.5 years part time due to studying and continuing honorary role after I finished studying). In the hopsital I got a good range of experience, working with adults, children, older adults, and people addictions and eating disorders. I also had just over a year of part time voluntary AP work.

No publications.

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Re: What experience did you have when you got on training?

Post by Pixie » Mon May 23, 2016 9:23 pm

Qualifications: BA (1st), PGCE, PgDip, MSc, PhD (eternal student!)

Experience: range of teaching jobs, support worker (LD), therapeutic work with children, NHS voluntary role (which I love, and confirmed CP is the right career for me).

I was thrilled (and somewhat surprised) to get a place on my first application but I really waited until I was absolutely certain I was ready (I wanted to apply 3 or 4 years ago but knew it wasn't the right time for me).

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Joined: Wed Mar 04, 2015 7:33 pm

Re: What experience did you have when you got on training?

Post by Aaron1989 » Tue May 24, 2016 12:09 am

BSc Psychology with Clinical Psychology 2:1 (2010)
MSc Clinical Research Distinction (2014)
Got a place at UEA second year applying

Support roles with learning disabilities, children, autism, challenging behaviour (4 years, some during undergrad)
Teaching assistant roles in special schools
Senior support worker roles in same provisions
Assistant Psychologist within independent sector; autism, challenging behaviour and severe learning disability provision - same place I was a support worker (3 years in the job). This highlighted to me you don't have to be in the NHS before you get on the course - I always thought this would be a barrier and thought this held me back during my first attempt at applying.

Posts: 19
Joined: Wed Nov 30, 2011 11:50 pm

Re: What experience did you have when you got on training?

Post by Adski » Tue May 24, 2016 12:20 am

1st Class - Psychology Degree
Merit - Primary Mental Health Care PG Cert (IAPT PWP)

HCA Acute units / assessment unit / PICU 9 months
PWP Primary Care 1 year
AP CAMHS 1 year
RA 3 years
AP Memory service 6 months

I got on in my 5th year of applying, 28 years old.

Posts: 47
Joined: Tue Mar 04, 2014 2:35 pm

What experience did you have when you got on training?

Post by Jaydemma » Tue May 24, 2016 10:53 am

I will be 27 (almost 28) when I start training and it was my 4th time applying. First and second year 0 interviews, third year 1 interview and reserve place, fourth year 1 interview and 1 place.


Mid 2:1 - Psychology with Sociology
Pass - MSc Child Social Development (with publication from dissertation)

Publication in CPF. A couple of poster presentations at conferences.


4 years working as a support worker in learning disabilities, mental health and acquired brain injury, non NHS, both full and part time over the course of university and shortly afterwards.

2 years, 1 day a week voluntary AP in CAMHS then a CMHT.

15 months paid AP in specialist CAMHS (gained post from being an internal candidate after being a volunteer in the trust)
2 years paid AP in community LD team
9 months paid Research Assistant

Never thought I'd see the day when I'd add to this post! Keep plugging away if your still on the path.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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Location: Newcastle upon Tyne

Re: What experience did you have when you got on training?

Post by KID1987 » Tue May 24, 2016 4:44 pm

I have just got on to training aged 29 (my third application) to start in September 2016.

1st year - No interviews
2nd year - No interviews
3rd year - 1 outright interview and 1 reserve list interview --> offered place on the former

In terms of what experience I acquired, I have listed these below and they total around 4.5 years of work experience:

- Assistant Psychologist – 20 months
- Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner – 13 months
- Recovery Coach- 5 months
- Support Worker – 5 months
- Healthcare Assistant- 13 months

For my academic background:

- BA Hons (2:2)
- MSc in Psychology (distinction)
- PgCert in Improving Access to Psychological Therapies in Primary Care (distinction)
Last edited by KID1987 on Tue May 24, 2016 4:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Posts: 33
Joined: Fri Sep 10, 2010 11:55 am

Re: What experience did you have when you got on training?

Post by Gem2010 » Tue May 24, 2016 4:51 pm

I will be 32 (almost 33) when I start training and it was my 4th time applying. 1 interview first time, 1 interview and reserve place second time, 0 interviews third time, 2 interviews fourth time.

Bsc Psychology and Biology (accredited BPS) 2:2
Msc Health Psychology

Experience (all full time paid positions in NHS)
3 years - Higher Level Clinical Support Worker – CAMHS inpatient
2.5 years – Associate Practitioner – Specialist Personality Disorder Service
2 years – Senior Assistant Psychologist – Clinical Health Psychology services
1 year – Psychology Research Assistant - youth project team
8 months – Assistant Psychologist – Early Intervention in Psychosis Service
(I have also sought out opportunities to do ad hoc work for relevant research work and helped out other services deliver therapeutic groups).

Good luck everyone. It's a tough process but if it's something you truly want then use that motivation to seek out as much experience as possible and do the things you enjoy.

Posts: 4
Joined: Fri May 06, 2016 12:06 pm

Re: What experience did you have when you got on training?

Post by misslioness » Tue May 24, 2016 8:16 pm

This was my second year applying and I am 27. No interviews last year. 1 interview this year which turned into an offer.

BSc Psychology with Neuroscience (2:1)
MSc Cognitive Neuroscience (Merit)

1 year Befriender in an older adult mental health ward (work experience at university)
1 year Honorary AP in child and adolescent clinical health psychology
1.5 years FT AP in the same department as above
8 months FT AP in CAMHS (3 months at the time of application)
8 months Volunteer bereavement support group facilitator (only did this once or twice at the time of application)

I also previously worked as a locum receptionist, a health care assistant at a pharmacy, a sales assistant and a clinical support worker (briefly) for a male resident unit. I have no publications.

As many have already said... it only takes one!

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Joined: Mon May 23, 2016 1:16 pm

Re: What experience did you have when you got on training?

Post by Kitwe » Tue May 24, 2016 9:13 pm

I will be 26 when I begin training in October 2016. It was my first time applying for the clinical doctorate. Here is a brief description of my experience:
Psychology BSc (first) graduated 2012
Started a Clinically relevant PhD (neuro) - submitted April 2016. Paid with my undergraduate supervisor
Part-time 1yr Assistant Psychologist NHS (Neuro) 2015-2016 unpaid
I have publications and conference proceedings all in neuro

I originally wanted to be an accademic, however 2.5 years into my thesis I realised I wanted more contact with people. My AP position was invaluable I learnt loads!! I really enjoyed the experience and decided to apply for clinical training rather than a post-doc. I was not expecting to even be short listed as I always thought you had to have diverse experience with multiple populations but all mine has been neuro/research. I'm not in the business of giving advice but I'd recommend psychology research as a great place to start building clinically relevant experience and contacts.

All the best :)

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Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2015 11:01 am

Re: What experience did you have when you got on training?

Post by Lewerby » Wed May 25, 2016 10:57 am

I'm 27 and got on this year, which was my first year applying. I had two interviews, the first of which did not go well due to nerves completely getting the better of me. I figured out what I could learn from it and worked hard on that.


BSc Psychology, First (2006 -2009)
MSc Applied Forensic Psychology, Distinction (2014 - 2015)
I worked in health research between the BSc and MSc, whilst I figured out what I wanted to do with my life, and so had a number of publications and a lot of conference presentations through that.Experience


Mind, volunteer befriender, 3 years for a couple of hours per week
YHLCOSA, volunteer working with people with convictions for sexual offences, 2 years for a couple of hours per week
Honorary Assistant Psychologist post for 6 months, 1 day a week, during my MSc
Healthcare Worker at a medium secure forensic hospital for 2 months

Whilst I did do the AP post, it was honorary, short, and didn't involve any interaction with clients at all and honestly the other experience was much more useful. So I feel like my experience can add to the pile of "you don't need a million AP posts to get on!"

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